The Salt River Rafters are headed to the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday thanks to the late-game heroics of Brian Miller.Miller, the Marlins' No. 12 prospect, laced a two-run single to give the Rafters a 4-2 lead heading into the 9th inning, and the Rafters held on to
The Salt River Rafters are headed to the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday thanks to the late-game heroics of Brian Miller.
Miller, the Marlins' No. 12 prospect, laced a two-run single to give the Rafters a 4-2 lead heading into the 9th inning, and the Rafters held on to beat the Glendale Desert Dogs, 4-3.
"Right there, you just got to put something in play," Miller said. "You've got to give your team a chance. Especially with the wind like it was today and the sun, just trying to put something in play. Obviously, it worked out for me."
The weather out at Salt River Fields was rather chilly, at 55 degrees, with overcast conditions.
Miller's late hit put the Rafters ahead, but not before a bit of a scare in the ninth. The Desert Dogs managed one run in the top of the ninth with another runner in scoring position.
The Rafters held on, and Miller's two RBIs in the eighth were ultimately too much to overcome.
His clutch performance secured a spot in the championship game with the Rafters' name on it, despite being on a losing streak coming into the day.
"Oh, it's huge," Miller said. "We've dropped five in a row. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot, so to win a close one today was huge."
Miller was selected No. 36 in the 2017 Draft during the first competitive balance round. During his stint in the Minors in 2018, he appeared in 128 games. He had a .295 batting average and 43 RBIs, and he advanced to Double-A midway through the season.
Miller's performance on Wednesday put Salt River in position to win an AFL title, but the outfielder took a moment to reflect on his experience in the AFL.
"It's been good," he said. "It's pretty relaxed."
With a shot at a title on Saturday in hand, Miller added all of the players are competing for something else as well.
"It's fun to play with guys from other teams that are going through the same things you are," he said. "A quest for the big leagues. Everyone's fairly close so it's good to be able to play with those guys, learn a lot, and get this experience."
Harley Yearout is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.